Peer into the darkness and see the birth of stars


Join Doug Johnstone, associate director of the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT), for the next ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center Mauna Kea Skies talk titled “Peering Into the Darkness with the JCMT: Witnessing the Birth of Stars” at 7 p.m. Friday in the planetarium.

The birth of stars remains shrouded in mystery. They form inside thick puddles of gas and dust located primarily along the spiral arms of the galaxy.

Astronomers use infrared and radio telescopes to peer into and through these murky puddles to witness the birth of stars.

For more than 25 years, the JCMT has led investigations to uncover the formation of stars in the galaxy. In collaboration with the Spitzer Space Telescope, the Herschel Space Observatory and the soon-to-be-completed ALMA Observatory in Chile, the JCMT has transformed the understanding of stellar birth.

Join Johnstone on an adventure to uncover nearby stellar nurseries.

The 15-meter telescope on Mauna Kea is devoted to observations of the sky at sub-millimeter wavelengths.

Johnstone’s main research interests follow the formation of stars and planetary systems. He began his professional life as a theorist at the University of California, Berkeley, working on the evolution of circumstellar disks around young stars, before extra-solar planet detections were common.

He has spent time at the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics, the University of Toronto and the National Research Council of Canada, in Victoria, British Columbia.

Today, Johnstone’s research focuses on the formation and evolution of structure in molecular clouds, attempting to disentangle the physical processes through which a molecular cloud sheds into individual stars.

 

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